all Star Wars movies TV shows at Disney feel like Expanded Universe now in the canon, end of Skywalker line / Ahsoka Baylan
Image via Disney

In the New Era of Star Wars, Everything Seems to Be Expanded Universe

There’s always been this weird, slightly annoying misconception about Star Wars being milked to death only after Disney got its hands on the IP. Even I, someone who grew up on the prequels and their supplementary stories, vividly remember tons of Star Wars coming out across several forms of media long before the Mouse took over.

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Of course, the first Clone Wars animated show and all the surrounding video games, novels, and comics were this huge transmedia event that made the wait for Revenge of the Sith more bearable. But before that, I went with my dad to watch the re-releases of the original trilogy films, and I also remember playing Shadows of the Empire and seeing plenty of novels and comics that existed outside the films in stores. For me, Star Wars has always been this huge thing that never sleeps.

all Star Wars movies TV shows at Disney feel like Expanded Universe now in the canon, end of Skywalker line / Obi-Wan Kenobi Anakin Skywalker

Image via Disney

Maybe that’s why the increased output of live-action Star Wars only feels like the logical next step to me. If there’s a budget and an audience, why not explore stories that would’ve been traditionally limited to comics and novels on the screens? So far, the reception appears to be mostly positive, but there’s all this noise about Star Wars becoming less of an event because of this.

That’s a fair point, I guess. And I’d say it’s strictly linked to the current Star Wars film drought we’re “suffering” since 2019. Like ‘em or hate ‘em, the yearly theatrical model was working out just fine, but it appears Lucasfilm and Disney couldn’t accept one big failure (Solo not even reaching $400 million worldwide at the box office). With the “movie events” gone and Disney+ shows taking over after The Mandalorian’s huge success in late 2019, Star Wars has gradually become a lighter version of the MCU.

all Star Wars movies TV shows at Disney feel like Expanded Universe now in the canon, end of Skywalker line / The Mandalorian Bo-Katan Grogu

Image via Disney

The Marvel comparison isn’t entirely true though; only the “MandoVerse” shows are working towards a big crossover and interacting directly with each other. Star Wars has always loved its Glup Shittos and resurrecting bits and pieces of lore, often in the shape of renowned characters that refuse to die. Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau’s ongoing narrative is fully embracing that energy, but then we have stuff like Andor and (apparently) The Acolyte, which are content to do their own self-contained thing despite the obvious ties to the larger franchise. So no, Star Wars isn’t going full Marvel, though we can argue that it was bound to become part of the modern content soup.

This surface-level analysis brings us to the matter (I wouldn’t call it an issue.) of asking how much Star Wars is too much Star Wars. And here’s where things get needlessly violent between fans, as everyone has their own idea — nurtured over decades — of what Star Wars should be and represent. The moment you step out of the movies, it becomes abundantly clear that Star Wars became a massive universe housing lots of different tones, stories, and characters long ago. But I get why someone would rather stick to just the movies (or even just some of the movies).

Image via Disney

For many fans, Star Wars was this special thing that happened a few times as they were growing up. Never buying into the Expanded Universe (or “Legends,” as we now call the former extended canon) or the games, Star Wars has always represented a big event and a linear story, the story of the Skywalkers. That’s why the sequels already felt like a stretch for some folks.

And now we’re definitely getting a sequel to the sequels! No more Skywalker bloodline though, so that automatically makes this “Episode X” feel like an extension of the core saga and a new beginning. After Star Wars Celebration 2023, the franchise’s horizon looks clearer than ever, and one thing is certain: Lucasfilm has finally figured out that Star Wars has stayed relevant for almost five decades because it dared to step out of the confines of the Skywalker storyline.

Mind you, George Lucas was never big on the stories that weren’t penned by him, but he allowed the universe to flourish without his direct supervision long before he sold the entire package to Disney more than a decade ago. Maybe he always saw the Star Trek model as the franchise’s endgame. Let’s not forget he always cited plenty of serials as crucial inspirations for the original Star Wars, plus he almost got the first Star Wars TV show made after Revenge of the Sith.

Andor

Image via Disney

The book/comic output ain’t dwindling, and Star Wars video games are set to make a big comeback in the next few years after the creation (return?) of Lucasfilm Games, a creative nexus working alongside studios all over the globe and not just EA. The big difference now is that Star Wars TV and movies will start behaving in an “all pitches are welcome” way, as the “main” story has already been told.

Understandably so, some fans and viewers have jumped ship. For better or worse, we’re done with Skywalkers and the classic conception of Star Wars. Moving forward, it’s all about making Star Wars for Star Wars diehards, the people that simply enjoy hanging out inside its universe and slowly learning all the details about its vast history. If casual viewers want to stick around, that’s cool. After all, the sequels and The Mandalorian have made new fans out of newcomers, so it’s not like the fanbase will just gradually become smaller and die out.

Image via Disney

Such an approach doesn’t rule out major theatrical events — we’ve got more of those coming — or future trilogies either, but plans are more fluid now. We’ll be jumping all over the timeline, meeting new characters and exploring new locations. You might not care about all of them, and that’s fine.

In fact, watching Star Wars moving forward should be a more relaxed experience; 2022 was a pretty solid test run of how things might look in the near future, as The Book of Boba Fett, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Andor could not be more different from each other. Boba Fett was part of a larger whole, but the other two worked on their own just fine and embraced distinct tones.

While 2023 promises to be heavy on the “MandoVerse” narrative, 2024 will go back to Andor for a second and final season, in addition to taking us to the all-new (if you’re not reading books or comics) High Republic era with The Acolyte. Similarly, James Mangold’s now-in-development film promises to explore the very beginning of the Jedi with a “biblical epic” of sorts set 25,000 years before A New Hope. All these stories won’t require following anything else, though I’m sure those of us with terminal cases of “Wookieepedia brain” will be able to point at the screen several times regardless.

all Star Wars movies TV shows at Disney feel like Expanded Universe now in the canon, end of Skywalker line Ahsoka

Image via Disney

Circling back to my Ahsoka piece, I think the biggest problem here for some folks is escaping the online discourse that surrounds almost every major piece of media that is released. Aside from that, I think that, in going far and wide with Star Wars, Lucasfilm might have found the key to keep everyone — bar the biggest purists — at least satisfied.


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Author
Fran Ruiz
Fran J. Ruiz is a freelance writer for The Escapist as well as other gaming, entertainment, and science websites, including VG247, Space, and LiveScience, with a strong focus on features, listicles, and opinion pieces. His wordsmith journey started with Star Wars News Net and its sister site, writing film, TV, and gaming news as a side gig. Once his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English Studies (University of Malaga, Spain) were done, he started collaborating with more and more sites until he became a full-time freelancer on top of an occasional private tutor. There’s no film genre he’s afraid of, but sci-fi and fantasy can win him over easily. Star Wars and Jurassic Park are his favorite stories ever. He also loves the entirety of Lost (yes, even the final season). When it comes to games, Spyro the Dragon and Warcraft III are his all-timers, but he’s the opposite of tied to a few genres. Don’t try to save him from his gargantuan backlog.